Tuesday, October 11, 2022
Need to be back in the office? Not if you're a developer
For some people, remote working is a solution that’s years overdue. For others – and let’s face it, it’s often CEOs shelling out for empty office spaces – working from home was a temporary blip. Surely there’s no substitute for the productivity and sense of community that comes from working in one building together, etc. etc.
Us? We’re huge fans of working from home. Most of our team works remotely every day, and it’s been part of how we operate since before Covid came. And while we know it’s not perfect for everyone, we know that for app developers, it makes so much sense.
It's not just better work-life balance – it's freedom
By this point we all know working from home isn’t an excuse to keep your pyjamas on until lunch and watch Netflix while you “work”. It’s a genuine alternative to conventional offices, and it comes with a heap of benefits whether you’re a developer or not.
Of course the big one is flexibility. Working from home means you can choose the routine that best suits you. That’s essential for creatives and knowledge workers in general, and for parents, who can fit their work around childcare rather than the other way round, it’s an epiphany.
For introverts and people with social anxiety, it makes things way more comfortable. And when people can shape their routine around what works for them, that’s when they deliver at their best. One study in 2020 showed workers were almost 50% more productive when working from home compared to when they were in the office the year before.
One of our developers Scott says: “I love working at Morrow for many reasons, but some of the most important for me are that it offers fully remote working and high flexibility with the hours I work. I've never been a fan of the 9-5 approach to working - I'm far from a 'morning person' and much prefer working through the afternoons and evenings. Morrow allows me to work hours that suit me and fit the work around my life - not the other way around."
Developers don’t want to spend their lives stuck in traffic
Cutting commutes is a lifesaver too. Sure, if you cycle down an idyllic country lane every morning, maybe it isn’t so bad. But for many, less commuting equals better work-life balance, more quality time with family, and winning back the 400 days of their life that the average UK worker once spent commuting.
Then there’s the amount of money you can save when you don’t have the daily commute to worry about – both from the travel itself, and the cost of where you live. In the past tech companies have gravitated towards hubs like Silicon Valley or London, but remote developers no longer have to fork out that kind of rent just to be near their job.
And that cuts both ways. If developers have the freedom to work from anywhere in the world, then firms can also hire them from anywhere. When there’s a shortage of tech expertise, being able to cast your net further than a 50-mile radius cuts out so much pain.
Productivity and collaboration look different for developers
When most people think of app developers, they often think of someone hunkered down in a basement room, coding deep into the night while the energy drink cans mount up in the bin.
That’s not true for everyone, but it’s not exactly a myth either. Whether you’re a caffeine-driven night owl or you swear by early mornings and matcha, so much of coding happens in intense, individual bursts. It’s not something you can force into a 9–5, and having everyone in one office doesn’t really help much.
Even when developers do need to collaborate, most of the time that happens via a computer anyway. When you need to talk about a bit of code with someone else in the team, it’s just easier to do that with both of you at your own terminal so one of you can look things up while the other is explaining what they’ve done.
If anything, using tools like Slack to do that remotely makes things easier than talking about it across a desk. You can record video chats or call up messages whenever you need to double check information. There’s no need to remember everything or keep a bunch of notes, and that means developers are less likely to make mistakes when they get to work on that code.
Remote working doesn't happen overnight
When the pandemic hit, most people had to sort out their remote working almost immediately. But if you're going to make a remote or hybrid model successful in the long run, it takes some effort.
Working from home is not for everyone. Times are tough and there is always a risk of burning out. Here's a great blog on how to avoid your tech team burning out.
At Morrow we have daily standups and weekly project calls to know where everyone’s at with their work. But we also schedule water cooler calls every day just to hang out and chat away from the work. There’s no pressure for anyone to join, but more often than not everyone’s got something they want to jump in and chat about.
But at the end of the day, you also need to accept that office vs home working isn’t really the right question. For starters, one isn’t necessarily a better solution for everyone. For every introverted software developer who just wants to crack on in their own time, there’s another who craves the structure and social interactions of a co-working space.
What makes great work happen is the team behind it. If something is up with the culture or the team members, your physical environment isn’t going to change the game. But by offering developers a choice of where they work, you’ll at least have access to the best people. And if you want to shut that down for fear of losing productivity, you might be putting a cap on the quality of the developers you can hire.
If you want to read more about what working from home can mean for software developers, check out the story of how we grew Morrow with a remote-first culture.